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Sparks get first win on the road

Betty Lennox scored 20 points coming off the bench and Tina Thompson had 16 points and eight rebounds as the Sparks defeated the Liberty.

July 10, 2009|Associated Press

NEW YORK — After getting off to a slow start this season, Sparks Coach Michael Cooper says he thinks his team is close to hitting its stride.

Betty Lennox scored 20 points, Tina Thompson had 16 points and eight rebounds, and Los Angeles beat the New York Liberty, 69-60, on Thursday night. Candace Parker, playing in her second game since returning after the birth of her daughter in May, had eight points and six rebounds in 23 minutes for the Sparks (4-6).

"We're still in that stage of trying to find each other," Cooper said. "It's going to take us some time before you really see our team play the way we're supposed to be playing when everybody's healthy."

Although they got Parker back in their last game, the Sparks are still without Lisa Leslie. The three-time MVP sprained her right knee in a loss to Phoenix on June 19 and is expected to rejoin the team later this month.

"This team wasn't built on just two or three or four players," Cooper said. "Obviously having four Olympians helped; that's not going to get it done if you're not playing together. . . . Betty came in off the bench and did a superb job. We had been lacking some energy coming off the bench, and she supplied that immensely tonight."

The Sparks shot 47% from the field (27 for 57), including six for 16 on three-pointers, and outrebounded the Liberty, 38-24. New York shot 37%, including three for 17 from beyond the arc.

Parker was pleased with her effort and isn't worried about figuring out how close she is to being 100%.

"I just know that I can take a step forward every game, and I feel like I did take a step forward this game from last game," she said. "My legs are getting a little bit under me and things are working out that way. I'll probably start to measure that maybe in two or three weeks."

Los Angeles missed its first five shots and trailed 11-0 before Parker's reverse layup with about 4 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter got the Sparks on the scoreboard.

"Teams are going to come out like that," Thompson said. "When you're on the road and they're at home you expect them to come out to a fast start. Coach Cooper called a couple of timeouts and told us to stay set and continue to play our basketball. We were kind of getting shots we wanted to get; we just kind of weren't putting them in."

Los Angeles got its first win away from Staples Center and its third victory in the last five games overall.

Janel McCarville scored 18 points, Essence Carson had 12 and Shameka Christon 10 for New York (3-7), which lost for the fourth time in five games.

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